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nikipedia's avatar

How would you manage this traffic and tardiness issue?

Asked by nikipedia (28005points) May 29th, 2012

Suppose you have to drive somewhere a few times a month. When there is no traffic, it takes 45 minutes. Usually there is traffic, and 95% of the time it takes an hour and a half or less. The last 5% of the time, it can take up to 3 hours.

Do you leave yourself 3 hours to get there every time? Suppose the event you’re going to is not life or death, but it will be very annoying and inconvenient for all involved if you are late.

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19 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

Can the appointment be rescheduled for a time of day when traffic is more predictable?

If this were my situation, I would probably try to arrange things so that I had somewhere else to go at the destination end, even if it was just a Starbuck’s with a free wifi, and allow more than the anticipated maximum time. So if it could take 3 hours, I’d probably plan on 3½. And then I’d do the other thing, sit in Starbuck’s or go shopping or visit someone or take a lunch to a park or whatever, until it’s time for the appointment.

I’d also be asking if the thing I’m traveling for is something that could be done elsewhere, closer to home.

If it’s just not that kind of thing at all—not an appointment, not something that can be scheduled to suit me—I’d make sure that everyone affected feels free to start without me.

bkcunningham's avatar

For the few times a month I would have to travel with the chance of the trip taking up to 90 minutes, I’d give myself the 90 minutes to get there. If the trip only took 45 minutes, I’d have time to relax and unwind, grab a coffee or whatnot before my appointment.

Are there alternative routes you can take along the main route if traffic gets backed up enough to make the trip take 3 hours?

WestRiverrat's avatar

Can you handle the appointment by teleconferencing?

Sunny2's avatar

Check if your area has a traffic map on your computer. You can follow your route with the cursor and find out how fast the traffic is going and if there are problems on the route. I don’t think I’m in the only metropolitan area that has this kind of thing available.
If you have a cell phone, you can call if you run into an unexpected problem.

marinelife's avatar

You allow three hours if you know that that possibility is there.

CWOTUS's avatar

I’d plan for the 95% of the time and make sure that my cell was charged so that I could call to report the terrific (and 1-in-20 or less frequent) inconvenience of an unexpected huge delay.

We make these plans all the time in the Northeast, because traffic, road conditions including maintenance and rework, and weather can do this to us… even more often than you suggest.

I would certainly not plan for a three-hour trip “a few times a month” if I that was 4 times what it should be and more than twice what it is “occasionally”.

josie's avatar

Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

righty's avatar

I would get up earlier. That way i KNOW that i will make it on time and will also leave me enough time to physically recuperate from the drive and also enough time to prepare for the meeting (or whatever) without having a journey on my mind.

jca's avatar

Unless you’re talking about work, I would plan for the hour and a half ride and for the times when you get stuck and it’s going to be 3 hours, I would call and let them know “Just FYI I’m stuck in traffic.”

I would not shoot for 3 hours each time and then be sitting around 9 times out of 10 for one and a half hours killing time.

I am wondering, for the 95% of time when there’s traffic and it takes an hour and a half, what makes the other 5% of the time be three hours? More traffic? Construction?

wundayatta's avatar

I think @CWOTUS strategy makes the most sense. GA, @CWOTUS!

WestRiverrat's avatar

Is there a pattern to the times it takes longer? Maybe you should track when it takes longer, then if it is a predictable event, you could schedule around those times.

blueiiznh's avatar

It all depends on the criticality of you being late.
You can plan for the normal time during traffic, but if it is critical that you be there, then you need to plan for the worst.
If it can slide a little when you get there, you plan for the average.
If you don’t care eitherway or it is billable, then you do the minimum and let them lump it.

nikipedia's avatar

Thank you for the suggestions, fluther friends. Believe me, if there was a way to make this drive less painful (different route) or nonexistent (teleconference), I would gladly do it. Given that there is no solution to the catastrophe that is the 405 freeway, I was wondering how other people would handle it. I know people who would leave 4 hours early every time, but my inclination is to leave 2 hours and if the traffic extends beyond that, send my sincerest apologies.

lillycoyote's avatar

This is kind of a tough issue and I am, really, not an expert on getting places on time :-) … but…

There is at least a certain amount of predictability to traffic, of course, but there’s no way to be absolutely certain; just no way. Morning, evening and even lunchtime traffic is somewhat predictable. Seasonal traffic is somewhat predictable. I live in the Land of a Thousand Malls in a state with no sales tax so in Christmas shopping season I know there is going to be traffic everywhere and also, a 2 hour trip to the beach, on a Wednesday in December is going to be a 6 hour trip to the beach on a Friday afternoon in the summer.

Just last week, a Friday afternoon, I had to run an errand and left early to give myself plenty of time for rush hour traffic, only to find that everyone in town seemed to have left work early. It was a beautiful, spring Friday afternoon and there was no traffic all.

As others have mentioned, I don’t think you should have to take in to account the worst case traffic scenarios every time. I don’t think anyone always leaves themselves 3 hours to make a 45 minute trip just because it can, occasionally, take 3 hours.

Just try, if you can, to get a sense of what the traffic might be like and keep your cell handy, as mentioned, if it looks like you are going to be late. Unless the traffic in your area is completely random and unpredictable and you want to make sure that you are absolutely, never late, I’m not sure what else you can do other than leave yourself the 3 hours, which seems excessive and a waste of your time.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Is there anyone you can meet up with in order to carpool to the general destination area so you can use the HOV lane?
Is it even an advantage in L.A. to get in the HOV lane?

CWOTUS's avatar

I guess I’d temper my response along the lines of @blueiiznh. If I were a surgeon or other professional with scheduled surgeries or other coordinated events involving high cost and complexity in a remote location “several times a month”, with those chances for delay, then I’d schedule those appointments (or my travel) so that I wasn’t (normally) arriving “just in time”.

A surgeon or attorney, for example, would probably schedule these types of “meeting” activities for late in the day, if possible (or arrive the evening before and book a hotel). Ballplayers make sure to arrive at the stadium hours ahead of time as a matter of course.

On the other hand, for dates or other casual / social events I’d stick to what I said earlier: Plan to arrive somewhat ahead of time for “most-frequently expected” travel times, and send regrets one time in twenty.

JLeslie's avatar

Surgeons are late sometimes. It isn’t that rare. One surgery goes long, or they just show up late. I’m sure they schedule OR time and need to be somewhat on time, but I would assume the times are padded for unexpected things in surgery, and they count on things going smoothly when they run late. Attorneys different story when they are to be in court.

Similar to the surgeon who counts on things going relatively smoothly, I would give myself the 90 minutes to get there, maybe 100 minutes at the most. The way I would look at it is probably more than 75% of the time I would be on time to the meetings, and they would be forgiving for the times traffic delayed me, and believe that it was indeed traffic and that I had reasonably planned the trip.

Sunny2's avatar

You DO have the ability to find out what the immediate situation is on the freeway:

Free Real Time 405 Freeway Traffic Conditions Maps, Accidents…
405 LA Freeway Traffic-Travel Conditions Maps, Incidents, and News.
Google it. It will help!

augustlan's avatar

A combination of @CWOTUS’ answer and @blueiiznh.‘s If it’s absolutely critical that you get there on time, I’d plan for the worst every time. If not, I’d shoot for what happens most often.

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